Sun Ra Arkestra, Immanuel Wilkins, Mary Lou Williams & More: The Week in Jazz

The Week in Jazz is your roundup of new and noteworthy stories from the jazz world. It’s a one-stop destination for the music news you need to know. Let’s take it from the top.



Sun Ra Archestra Single Drops to Celebrate First-Ever GRAMMY Nomination: The Sun Ra Arkestra received its first-ever GRAMMY nomination for its 2020 full-length, Swirling. To celebrate this achievement, Strut has released a limited edition 12″ single featuring two songs from the album’s recording session and a limited edition of Swirling pressed on orange vinyl. The single features a pre-master of “Seductive Fantasy” and is backed with “Infinity (I’ll Wait for You)>” Each copy is hand stamped and housed in a silkscreen sleeve featuring artwork adapted from the album by illustrator Lewis Heriz. Shop here.


Nnenna and Pierce Freelon Individually Nominated for GRAMMYs: Mother and son Nnenna and Pierce Freelon have both been individually nominated for GRAMMYs. Pierce Freelon’s family-focused album, Black to the Future, was nominated for Best Children’s Album. Nnenna Freelon’s first recording in more than a decade, Time Traveler, was nominated for Best Vocal Jazz Album. Listen to our JAZZIZ Travel podcast conversation with Nnenna Freelon about this record via the player below.


Kirk Whalum Receives USCT Humanitarian Award: Saxophonist/composer Kirk Whalum received a United States Color Troops (USCT) Humanitarian Award, given to recipients who have shown kindness and bravery, honoring African American heroes of the past and present. The Award was presented by The Fuller Story during three days of education and celebration that took place in Franklin, Tennessee, on October 21-23. The three days culminated with the unveiling and dedication of a bronze USCT Soldier Statue in downtown Franklin.


Craft Celebrates 70 Years of Contemporary Records: On December 3, Craft Recordings officially launched a campaign celebrating the 70th anniversary of the audiophile jazz label Contemporary Records by releasing six On Contemporary digital compilations. Five of them focus on individual jazz giants Art Pepper, Hampton Hawes, Barney Kessel, André Previn and Shelly Manne. The sixth is a wider focus on recordings by saxophone greats. Craft plans to continue its campaign by releasing a variety of content throughout the coming year. More here.


Album Announcements

Allison Miller and Jane Ira Bloom, Tues Days (Outline): Tues Days is a set of improvised sax and drum duets by Jane Ira Bloom and Allison Miller, recorded over five Tuesdays in March and April of 2021. The compositions are made up in-the-moment, energetic, tactile, alive, as well as mixed and mastered by bassist Mark Helias with breathtaking fidelity. Tues Days is available now and you can order it HERE.

Various Artists, Tokyo Glow (Nippon Columbia): Nippon Columbia has announced the release of a new 18-track compilation titled Tokyo Glow, due out December 10 on vinyl, CD and digital platforms. The compilation features a selection of late ’70s and ’80s city pop, funk and soul from the vaults of the revered Japanese label, curated by DJ Notoya. “I focused more on the slightly more underground tracks from the era, rather than the bigger, well-known releases,” DJ Notoya explains. “For me, that was a more fun and satisfying approach.” Pre-order it here.


Immanuel Wilkins, The 7th Hand (Blue Note): Saxophonist/composer Immanuel Wilkins will release The 7th Hand on January 28 via Blue Note. This will be his follow-up to his acclaimed 2020 debut, Omega. The album will showcase his profound compositional talent with a seven-movement suite of new original pieces performed by his quartet with Micah Thomas, Daryl Johns and Kweku Sumbry, plus special guests. Pre-order The 7th Hand here.


Various Artists, Remixes JID010 (Jazz Is Dead): Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Younge close the inaugural run of their Jazz Is Dead series, which has featured collaborations with such greats as Gary Bartz, Azymuth, Roy Ayers, Brian Jackson and more, with a remix album. Remixes JID010 revisits the label’s catalog via the work of such critically-acclaimed producers as Cut Chemist, DJ Spinna, Georgia Anne Muldrow and more. The album is out now and featured in our list of 10 albums released this month that you need to know about. Order Remixes JID010 here.


Live Music and Festival News

NEC Jazz Orchestra Celebrates Mary Lou Williams: The NEC Jazz Orchestra will celebrate the life and legacy of trailblazing bandleader Lou Williams via a special concert at NEC’s Jordan Hall in Boston, Massachusetts, on December 9. The concert will also be broadcast internationally n December 22. “Soul on Soul – The Music of Mary Lou Williams” will also feature NEC alum and 2009 winner of the Mary Lou Wiliams Jazz Pianist Competition Carmen Staaf. More here.


Austria’s 3 Days of Jazz Festival to Return in 2022: The 3 Days of Jazz Festival of Saalfelden Leogang, Austria, is set to return to live audiences on January 28-30, 2022. There will be six concerts at the Kunsthaus Nexus Saalfelden, two concerts at the Mining and Gothic Museum Leogang, and a free concert at the Stöcklalm on the Asitz mountain. The program includes a mix of domestic and international artists. Click here to find out more about it.


Sunny Jain at Joe’s Pub, New York, January 15: Dhol player/drummer/composer Sunny Jain will perform music from his visionary 2020 record Wild Wild East live at New York’s Joe’s Pub on January 15. Tickets here. Jain is known for combining his Punjabi roots with his love of post-bop, jazz, fusion, psychedelic rock and more. The performance is part of the venue’s recently-announced live winter program. Listen to our JAZZIZ Travel podcast conversation with Sunny Jain via the player below.

Featured photo of Immanuel Wilkins by Rog Walker.

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